ON 26 Feb 2009, a group of Selangor Umno Youth members tried to prevent opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Karpal Singh from entering Parliament.
The confrontation resulted in an unpleasant scuffle between the Umno Youth members and several opposition MPs.
While Umno leaders predictably defended the Youth members for their actions, others were more critical.
“I wish to stress that all these cropped up because of Karpal Singh’s abrasive remarks in the Dewan Rakyat. I feel that Karpal Singh should be careful, don’t provoke the sentiments of Umno Youth grassroots because I think their anger is serious and he should watch his words.”
Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin, after advising the wing’s 700,000 members against resorting to confrontation or violence. He also said that the wing “has never encouraged or condoned” acts like the scuffle in Parliament. (Source: Khairy: Avoid confrontation; Bernama as quoted in The Star, 2 March 2009)
Khairy had previously denied Umno Youth were “thugs”.
“What happened in Parliament only involved 20 members compared to 700,000 outside said to be uneasy with Karpal. We do not act like the opposition which is capable of throwing stones and lying in the middle of roads. That is not the Umno Youth way.”
Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein, who maintained that the party’s members had actually acted prudently, and not gone “overboard on the rudeness of Karpal Singh.” He said the Malays are sensitive to the rulers’ position, and Karpal was “playing with fire” by accusing the wing of threatening him with bullets. (Source: Umno Youth Still Prudent on Karpal’s Rudeness, Bernama, 28 Feb 2009)
“I want to stress that Selangor Umno is behind Selangor Youth. We will foot the legal fees of Gombak Youth chief Megat Zulkarnian Omardin and Sedang Youth chief Ungku Md Salleh Ungku Abd Jamal and others who were involved if they are sued.”
Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, who defended Umno Youth’s right to object to Karpal’s statements. He called Karpal “an old man who refused to understand Malay culture and customs.” (Source: ‘Scuffle an embarrassment’, New Straits Times, 27 Feb 2009)
Outside of Umno, however, others were either vaguely or clearly critical of the Umno Youth members:
“Regardless of whether we are from the Barisan Nasional or (the) Opposition, we must respect the exact constitution, don’t make any provocation that could arouse the sentiments of others.”
Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) chairperson Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, after he dispersed the Umno Youth members in Parliament. Tiong said he regretted the incident that took place on the grounds of Parliament, and hoped that security around the Parliament building would be tightened. (Source: Umno Youth Press Karpal for Apology, Bernama, 26 Feb 2009)
“We want this place to be open to society but because of the stupidity of a small group, we have to place restrictions. Parliament should be open but we have fringe groups who don’t understand that force and coercion are not the way.”
Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh, expressing regret that Parliament security would have to be beefed up. He called the scuffle between Umno Youth and Karpal “tragic”, and characterised those involved as “hooligans” who were obstructing parliamentarians from doing their duty. (Source: ‘Scuffle an embarrassment’, New Straits Times, 27 Feb 2009)